backtop


Print 49 comment(s) - last by Tacoloft.. on Feb 13 at 5:19 PM

Recent studies point out that the cost to grow and produce biofuels is worse for the planet than gasoline

Two studies published in the journal Science shed some light into the overall cost of biofuels. Taken into account is not only the greenhouse emissions generated by burning biofuels but all of the emissions generated when producing biofuels.

According to one article the estimated impact of using corn based ethanol is double the amount of greenhouse emissions currently being produced by gasoline over a 30 year time span. An alternative method of ethanol production using switchgrass is estimated to increase emissions by a whopping 50 percent.

With governments around the world pushing to establish hard mandates on the use of biofuels and other renewable methods of energy production, we could be setting ourselves up to cause more harm than good. The U.S. Congress has set a target to raise the use of biofuels from 7.5 billion gallons to 36 billion gallons by 2022. That’s a 480 percent increase. That would push greenhouse gas production in the U.S. up by an order of magnitude.

At the same time, in order to produce these biofuels, farmland is cleared for the growth of ethanol-reliant crops. Clearing land for farming has a cost in greenhouse emissions, as does growing and harvesting these crops. Add that in to the cost of refining and burning these crops and we are generating far more emissions than simply using gasoline and oil.

Scientists in the U.S. and Europe have written letters to their respective governments warning them that biofuels in their current form will only exacerbate the production of greenhouse emissions and push the world further towards climate change.

The United Nations stated it wants to continue with the production of biofuels and reap any potential benefits. The organization admitted however that biofuels are not the silver bullet they were led to believe.

Dr. Searchinger is advocating a switch in gears for the production of biofuels. The use of organic waste in the production of biofuels would get around the problem of clearing and farming previously unused lands which cause so much of the greenhouse emissions that hold back any potential benefits of using biofuels. Using organic waste could also be well on it’s way to becoming a reality thanks to recent breakthroughs in this field.



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Generalization
By Discord on 2/9/2008 12:49:08 AM , Rating: 2
I'm afraid that the problem is the alternative fuel itself and not just where or how it's produced.
It cracks me up that the general consensus of many of the regular "educated" posters on DailyTech is that manmade CO2 pollution is not the cause of global warming. Yet everytime the debate of Ethanol comes up it is the sole factor in determining if it is a viable replacement for gasoline.
CO2 is absolutely harmless to human beings (unless it displaces too much Oxygen which won't happen). Why are all the endless debates centered solely on this topic?
The fact is that, accordingly to the only published study I've seen on the subject, the resulting pollution caused by burning Ethanol will be more detrimental to human health than our current solution.
That reason alone is enough for me to completely disregard it as a viable replacement to petroleum (unless gas supply/prices get so out of hand we have no recourse).
It makes no sense to replace an energy source with another more harmful one, end of story.
Instead of wasting time and money on this we should be researching solutions such as Hydrogen. Another earlier DailyTech post has shown that it is possible to produce it with a positive energy return and the only negative pollutant is CO2 (which again is harmless to humans and does not cause the ice caps to melt).


"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

Related Articles



Latest By Christopher Jennings













botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki